Do you often second guess yourself? Are you having trouble making simple decisions? Do you ask yourself ‘am I just too sensitive’ a dozen times a day? Do you sometimes feel confused and crazy at work? Do you know there is something is wrong, but you just can’t put your finger on it? You start lying to your partner to avoid the reality twists? Do you withhold details of your relationship from friends? Do you feel that you are not the same self you were when you met your partner?
If you answered YES to one or more of these questions – you may be in a gaslighting relationship. Let’s take a closer look on how to identify the gaslight effect.
In my book The Gaslight Effect: how to spot and survive the hidden manipulation others use to control your life, I describe the debilitating impact that dancing the ‘gaslight tango’ can have on you as you move through the stages of gaslighting. If you are suffering the gaslight effect, you are no longer sure of your reality, you are questioning your sense of self and you have given over your power in order to preserve the relationship. That’s the bad news. And, tragically, you are in deep psychological pain – sometimes you even feel like your soul hurts. But – there is good news here too: being in an ongoing gaslighting relationship requires your participation – even unwittingly – and that means that when you can name it you can begin to gather your inner strength and outside resources to step out of the dynamic.
I wrote the book because I listened to my patients and my friends, for years, talk about being consumed by a dynamic I called the “gaslight tango”. I witnessed the most successful of women, come unglued in their most intimate relationships, while at the same time, leading non profits, running companies with confidence and great success.
The people I saw dancing the ‘gaslight tango’ most often in my practice were in romantic relationships. While both men and women can be gaslighters, the pairing I see most often is the man as gaslighter and the woman, the gaslightee – following a more traditional model of man, the dominant and woman, the submissive. However, I have worked with many men who are gaslightees, many women who are involved with gaslighting women and both sexes being gaslighted by men or women in the workplace. No matter the players, gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse.
The “powerful” gaslighter communicates with certainty and consistency that he is right and there is something wrong with you or the way you think. The systematic knocking you down over time, will eat away at your confidence and cause you to experience a growing shakiness of self. Gradually, you begin to question what you thought you knew to be true. You are second guessing your reality.
Identifying The Stages Of The Gaslight Effect
In the next blogs, I will tell you more about what gasligting looks like in Stage 1: Disbelief, Stage 2: Defense, Stage 3: Depression. I will describe the different types of gaslighters the “glamour gaslighter” “good guy gaslighter” “the intimidator gaslighter”. I will explore – and, present some cases – about vulnerabilities on both sides and dynamics that keep gaslighter and gaslightee dancing together.
And – importantly, I will give you tips and strategies about how to stop gaslighting, and how to decide to stay or leave a relationship – and, either way, how to reclaim your reality and your joy.
In the meantime – if you are dancing the Gaslight Tango: here are a few quick tips about how to step out of the dance, now that you recognize that’s what is happening :
- Opt out of power struggles – write down language you can use and practice it (like this: we are saying the same thing, again and again, I just don’t want to continue)
- Avoid the right-wrong debates – pay attention to how you feel instead
- Practice sentence stems like “we can agree to disagree” when your perspectives clash
- Use silence instead of commenting when someone is provoking you – or, excuse yourself and walk away
- Write down your dialogue, as verbatim as you recall, and take a look at it at another time – notice when the conversation pivots to gaslighting
- Talk to a trusted friend for a reality check when you feel uncertain
- Trust your gut, if something feels wrong, it is wrong for you!
Identify The Gaslight Effect With Robin Stern’s Book
If you think things like this can’t happen to you, think again. Gaslighting is an insidious form of emotional abuse and manipulation that is difficult to recognize and even harder to break free from.
The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life will show you how the Gaslight Effect works, how you can decide which relationships can be saved and which you have to walk away from —and how to gasproof your life so you’ll avoid gaslighting relationship. Learn more about my book on The Gaslight Effect.